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If you’re reading this article I’m guessing you’re probably a big cricket fan. But do you know all there is to know about the sport? Even if you live, breathe and play or coach the sport, you probably don’t know everything…Read on to learn some interesting facts about cricket’s history that will enlighten even the game’s most ardent fan.
Origins of ‘cricket’…
Despite being familiar with a plethora of cricketing terminology, we rarely stop to question the origins of these words. Interestingly, ‘cricket’ did not begin its life as so, and is termed ‘creckett’ in its first record.
Other terms have more straightforward derivations; ‘wicket’ originated from the word meaning small gate and ‘googly’ is so named due to its effect on the batsman’s eyes.
Cricket – ‘civilising‘ the world…
After becoming estabilished in England, cricket gained in popularity throughout the colonies as a British export; it was thought to exert a ‘civilising effect’ on native peoples during the time of the Empire. The first game of cricket played in India was one between locals and British Army soldiers. The growth of the sport in the country proceeded to exceed all expectations and Indian cricket has fielded legends such as Sachin Tendulkar who as of 2011 has scored more runs than any other player.
Certainly, India’s cricketing success seems indicative of a strong legacy of the sport in the country. It is often forgotten that early participation was restricted to European settlers and the first Indian cricket clubs maintained a strong ethos of European exclusivity.
A comparable divide characterised English cricket until 1963, when the distinction between professional (gentlemen) players and amateurs was nullified. Prior to this, exclusivity had restricted participation in the sport and prevented universal access to some of the most well established clubs.
Two stumps not three?
It is a little known fact that the batsman defended not three stumps but two until 1775. Upon this date, it was decided that the modification was necessary in order to do justice to the bowler, and the change embedded itself successfully into the game. cricket stumps
Likewise, players and fans of cricket are largely unaware that the modern method of touching or grounding the bat over the popping crease represents another development in the sport. Originally, a batsman would have been required to insert his bat into a hole that lay between the stumps; a practice abandoned in the 18th century in order to combat the high prevalence of wrist injuries amongst batsmen.
Today, cricket would be unthinkable without its displays of aggressive bowling, yet this has not always been the case. Much controversy surrounded the so called shift from bowling to ‘throwing’ the ball as it was thought to discourage skilful batting. See the Young Cricketer’s Tutor for the full story and more on the interesting history of early cricket.
Although much is known about men’s cricket, information on the women’s game is less well publicised. Women started out as tea ladies serving at the cricket grounds and from this position began to play the game themselves.
It may then surprise you to learn that the Women’s World Cup was established before the men’s version of the competition.
A Brief History of Indian Cricket
It is no exaggeration to say that cricket in India today bears almost no recognition to its early forms. Introduced to the country by the British Army in 1721, it took its roots in small unorganised matches between the natives and colonisers. Until 1792, when the Calcutta Club was founded, cricket was not played formally in India and even then participation in the sport was restricted to Europeans. It was five years later that Indians began to play the sport in Bombay, laying the foundations of a tradition that would come to dominate sport in the country.
India had to wait until 1878 to play its first international match when a team travelled to England to take on their national side. England reciprocated in 1889, visiting India to play a series of matches in which they were defeated only once; by India’s single non-European team. The split between European and native players in India embedded itself into the sport, encouraged by the prestigious Presidency Matches which pitted European settlers against native Parsee sides until 1952.
Perhaps surprisingly for a side that currently hold the Cricket World Cup, the Indian team only gained test status in 1952 and achieved their first victory two years later in 1954. The growth of the game continued, and its status as India’s national sport was reinforced when, in 1897, India became the first nation outside England to host the World Cup. India went on to win the tournament in 1983 (and subsequently in 2011), their victory marking the 200th anniversary of organised cricket in the country.
India boasts a strong legacy of prolific players, including Sunil Gavaskar who holds the record for most centuries in Test cricket and Sachan Tendulkar, recently described as ‘the greatest Test player of all time’ by Andrew Strauss. Tendulkar, alongside three other India players Gavaskar, Kapil Dev and Virender Sehwag, received further recognition after being named in the ICC Greatest All Time Test XI this year.
Today, India plays host to the Indian Premier League, a tournament that is fast becoming the most popular and engaging in the sport. The thrill of the 20 over format has proven an enormous draw for players and spectators alike, marking a new dawn in cricketing history and a move away from the 50 over test match set up. The competition has attracted the undisputed greats of the game, amongst them Shane Warne, David Hussey and Mahela Jayawardene, all of whom are bound by multi million pound contracts. Certainly the IPL’s wealth surpasses that of any other competition in the sport; the tournament offers prize money of $2 million and attracts sponsorship in excess of $50 million.
Despite the undeniable success of the league, debate is rife over whether its economic and entertainment benefits outweigh the threat that it poses to the tradition of International Test Cricket. It remains to be seen whether the two games can co-exist effectively or if the recent innovation will come to dominate the sport. Whatever the outcome, it is true to say that India stands as the current pioneer of cricketing initiative and is set to continue its dominant status at the forefront of the game.
In this short article I want to challenge your cricketing knowledge and hopefully give you some insight into some things you probably don’t know about cricket.
Firstly, I want to look back into the history of cricket.
Did you know…
The cricket bat did not begin life as we know it today. In fact, originally it was curved; comparable to a dinner knife. Its form was altered in 1746 when it was decided that the shape was not conductive to good hitting and favoured the bowler overwhelmingly. Only after this modification was the practice of blocking or stopping adopted in the game.
The regulations governing the size of the bat were updated several years later after a batsman attempted to play with a bat the same width as the stumps (see Young Cricketer’s Tutor for the full story). The width was subsequently limited to four and a quarter inches and has remained so ever since. Interestingly, no such restrictions specific to the height of the bat are in existence.
How long were the longest and shortest matches in cricket history?
The longest game in the sport’s history was in 1938 between England and South Africa and lasted a marathon nine days; an ultimate test of endurance even by cricketing standards! Since then the laws/rules have changed to limit the length of matches.
At the opposite end of the scale, the shortest recorded game was played in 2008 when South Africa’s women’s team bowled out Bermuda for just ten runs.
Who actually plays cricket?
It is well known that cricket is a hugely popular sport, but a comparatively small group of nations dominate its top flight. Despite this, cricket is played competitively in more than 100 countries; that’s more than half of the countries in the world.
It is also the recognised national sport of 11 countries including Zimbabwe, India and Barbados. Interestingly, this list does not include England or South Africa, two of the most eminent cricketing nations.
Who is the highest paid player?
Despite recent media interest in the rapidly increasing wealth of the game, no cricketer features in Forbes Top 30 Highest Paid Athletes 2011. Mahendra Singh Dhoni is currently recognised as the world’s highest paid cricketer with total earnings of $10m in 2011.
Although not traditionally thought of as such, cricket is a physically demanding sport demanding high levels of fitness from its players. The ICC has recently stressed the importance of fitness training, components of which include interval training, core stability work and cross training. This is something I’ll be covering in much more detail on CricketSecrets.com very soon.
How many ways can a batsman be out?
There are ten ways in which a batsman can be called out in cricket; these include the familiar scenarios of being caught or run out, along with the more unusual such as double hitting and timing out.
Superstition affects many of cricket’s most successful players. Yuvraj Singh believes that his choice of bandana shapes his batting performance, Steve Waugh carried a red handkerchief in his pocket whilst playing and Mike Atherton refused to be interviewed if he was ‘not out’ overnight.
If you know some more little known facts about cricket or have a unusal supersition – tell us – use the form below to post your comment.
Ashes Cricket History
The Ashes tournament celebrates one of cricket’s most intense and time-honoured rivalries. From its inception in 1882, the sport’s most distinguished test competition has pitted the nations of England and Australia against one another. Held biannually, the Ashes are hosted by each country on an alternating basis and have generally comprised of a series of five test matches (although there have been occasions on which six matches have made up a series). Whilst victory ensures that the coveted trophy is awarded to the winning team, a draw allows the Ashes holders to retain the title.
Derived from a headline in the Sporting Times heralding England’s defeat to Australia in 1882, the name of the contest has endured the tournament’s 150 year history and has come to symbolise the fervour with which the competition is fought. The original trophy, a small terracotta urn, is said to contain the remnants of the bails from the first series and is currently held in the MCC Museum at Lord’s. This historical prize was presented to the winning team until 1990 when the MCC commissioned the urn shaped Waterford Crystal Trophy that is awarded today.
The overall series score line of 31-30 (as of 2011) in favour of Australia is indicative of the tournament’s quality and the close rivalry that exists between the two teams. The Ashes has been graced by many of the sport’s finest players, amongst them Don Bradman who holds the record of 5028 for the most runs scored, and Shane Warne, an undisputed great of the game. The latter is often heralded as the most prolific Ashes player, having played in 36 matches, scored 946 runs, 195 wickets and made 30 catches in his competition career.
Support for the Ashes has remained strong since its inauguration and the 2007 crowd figures of 813,316 speak volumes for its continued popularity. In fact, the great rivalry between England and Australia induced by the Ashes has not confined itself to the sport of cricket and has encouraged the institution of other sporting tournaments between the two nations such as rugby league, a hugely popular event in itself.
Despite the enduring interest in the competition, a move by the BBC in 1998 which relegated the sport to B Status and negated their obligation to provide live coverage of the Ashes, sparked concern for the future of the contest. Certainly, television viewing figures have declined since Sky gained the rights to the Ashes. Interest renewed however in 2005, when Channel 4 broadcast live coverage of England’s victory over Australia and attendance at the grounds has remained at consistent levels.
The future of the competition remains positive with an unprecedented 10 back to back test matches scheduled for the 2013 tournament. With rivalry at its height since England’s demolition of their opponents in the last match of 2011, which was won in decisive fashion by an innings and 83 runs and marked England’s first victory in Australia for 24 years, the tournament promises to reignite the spirit and passion that make it one of the game’s most prolific contests.
A Brief History of Cricket
The game of cricket has developed radically over a long and fascinating history. Set against its humble 14th century origins amongst the sheep farming community of southern England, the sport now bears little resemblance to its early derivations. Upon the establishment of the Hambledon Cricket Club in c. 1750, the game firmly embedded itself into English society and has gone on to establish a long and illustrious national tradition.
The formation of the Marylebone Cricket Club (MCC) in 1787 marked a shift in control of the sport, as power was assumed by the club, and the governing body at Hambledon was transferred to the MCC’s headquarters at Lord’s.
This movement of authority to the capital advanced the rise of elitist cricket, and by the late 18th century the acrimonious split between ‘gentlemen’ and players had been firmly established. Cricket emerged as a pastime of the aristocracy, and a symbol of the leisurely lives of the ruling classes, with clubs such as White Conduit in London restricting their membership exclusively to gentlemen. This elitist philosophy was also driven into schools and universities, as cricket became the stalwart sport at Eton, Oxford and Cambridge. Thought to typify the values of the English Gentleman, cricket functioned as much as a sport as a lesson in social refinement and morality, and was seen as something of a rite of passage into the society of the ruling elite.
Cricket as a social educator was not a concept confined to England, as British colonial powers exported its Anglican, ‘civilising’ principles to South Africa, the Caribbean and India during the reign of the Empire. Around the world, cricket retained its elitist philosophy with cricket clubs in India being opened only to European settlers. Australia marked the exception to this rule; its cricketing authorities made no distinction between amateur and professional players, a principle that took until 1963 to assert itself on the game in England and dispel any lingering illusions of exclusivity.
The history of cricket has not been without controversy. During the 19th century, tensions over the development of over arm and ‘aggressive’ bowling shaped the evolution of the game and redefined its rules. Today, the future of Test Match cricket seems increasingly uncertain, as the game is put under mounting pressure by the rise of Twenty20. Coupled with this are concerns that the Indian Premier League, established in 2008, could compromise the quality of international cricket if players ignore their obligations to their national teams (to maximise their potential earnings) and detract the attention of young impressionable players away from mastering the core cricket batting fundamentals. The credibility of the sport has also been rocked by allegations of match fixing; the banning of Pakistani players for bowling deliberate no balls in a game against England at Lord’s in 2010 being one of the most publicised results of the claims.
Yet interest in the game has never come under question, and cricket still stands as the second most popular sport in the world, despite only being played formally in 13 countries. From its early manifestation as a symbol of English culture and civility, the game has grown into a worldwide sporting and cultural phenomenon.
If you want to learn more about the history of cricket read the Young Cricketer’s Tutor.
Introducing, John Nyren’s Young Cricketer’s Tutor. Uncovered in a forgotten corner of a historic bookshop in Ross-on-Wye, this 1892 edition of The Young Cricketer’s Tutor has been painstakingly digitalised and updated for the modern reader. The game’s timeless secrets and early history are now available to today’s cricketer lovers in this authoritative and comprehensive guide.
The Tutor allows cricket enthusiasts to learn about the early characters and heroes of cricket along with key developments in the rules of the game which have made the sport what it is today. The book also provides an invaluable collection of some of the earliest known cricket tips and coaching advice. It reveals the fundamental principles of the game that have endured through its illustrious history.
Today’s cricketers will gain access to the batting, bowling and fielding secrets that defined the careers of cricketing legends such as John Small and David Harris. The incorporation of this advice into the repertoire of today’s players will enrich and improve their play and re-affirm the forgotten principles of cricket.
Here’s a sample of what you’ll find inside the Young Cricketer’s Tutor:
- Learn the true story about the ‘big bat’ incident which caused a change in the laws of cricket and led to ‘a total revolution’ in the game;
- Read the story of the transformation of two unknown farmers from ‘unadulterated rustics’ into ‘most admirable batters’;
- Discover the circumstances behind the change from two stumps to three in 1775;
- Find out the most valuable qualities in a fielder;
- The one rule of bowling which pursued by all the finest bowlers;
- Learn the little-known technique of how to part two well set batsmen;
- Why young batsmen shouldn’t try and hit the ball too hard;
- The most effective method for holding the ball when bowling so that it is released from your hand with ease;
- The best two ways to play a ball dropped short of a length at the off-side of a wicket; and
- Learn the most effective bowling techniques for slow and fast paced bowlers.
Nyren’s Tutor succeeds in retaining its relevance and readability even today, and continues to stand as one of the most comprehensive cricketing manuals available.
The intriguing first hand insight into the characters of the most esteemed players, the atmosphere of the great matches, and little known cricketing anecdotes give the book a unique slant on the game; one that followers and players of the sport will doubtless cherish.
The Young Cricketer’s Tutor is an essential addition to your library.
Price – $9.99 (pre-tax)
Available now through Amazon.com – Young Cricketer’s Tutor (2011) [Annotated & Illustrated]
A Quick History of World Cup Cricket
Despite test cricket being played since 1877, it took until 1975 for the ICC to introduce the Cricket World Cup to the sport. During its short history, the competition has paid host to some of the most memorable events and spectacular feats to be seen in the game; Kapil Dev’s 175 not out for India against Zimbabwe in 1983 and Sachan Tendulkar’s career record of 2278 world cup runs (as of April 2011) name but a couple. Now firmly established in the cricketing calendar, the World Cup, which follows a 50 over format, is contested every four years between the sport’s top 14 nations. Australia currently stands as the most successful team to play in the championship, and so far no other nation has come close to its record of four wins.
The list of World Cup Winners since 1975 is listed below:
- 2011 India
- 2007 Australia
- 2003 Australia
- 1999 Australia
- 1996 Sri Lanka
- 1992 Pakistan
- 1987 Australia
- 1983 India
- 1979 West Indies
- 1975 West Indies
The popularity of the competition has undergone a monumental rise from the 20,000 people thought to have watched the first test match to the current estimated 2.2 billion TV viewers worldwide. Despite this, concern still remains over the viability of the competition in its current format. As the Twenty20 World Cup and the IPL threatens to detract attention and focus of the game’s best players away from the longer form of one day cricket (and international Test matches).
Further developments may be seen in the competition’s format and plans to cut the number of competing nations from 14 to 10 are in the final stages of implementation, despite being met with a decidedly mixed reception. The change has not been welcomed by some nations who view it as a deterrent to the growth of cricket and another instance of elitism in the sport, a reputation that cricket has long fought to dispel. The invitational format of the competition has proved a further point of contention for nations such as Ireland who plan to fight their exclusion from the 2015 tournament.
Controversy also defined the aftermath of the 2011 competition when the ICC was accused of presenting India with a replica trophy instead of the genuine cup. Although the ICC has consistently denied any such wrongdoing, claims to the contrary have never been quashed fully. High profile protests such as the burning of an effigy of ICC President Sharad Pawar did little to help the reputation of the sport’s governing body.
Despite events such as this, the World Cup continues to stand as the sport’s most prestigious and celebrated competition of its kind. The legends of the game have been given enduring status in the ICC Cricket Hall of Fame, launched in 2009 to mark the authority’s 90th anniversary and present a lasting testimony to the international success of the sport.
So what’s the secret of England’s recent (July/Aug 2011) Test Cricket success?
Jim White of the Telegraph has written an interesting piece today. It explores some of the reasons he sees as being the key contributing factors. You can read it here: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/cricket/8677394/Englands-cricket-secret.html
The analysis is insightful, thought provoking and definitely worth a read. Especially the Alistair Cook ‘sweaty palm’ annecdote.
My favourite quote is from Andy Flowers interview for coach:
“He said he needed to change the culture in the dressing room. England needed to be rid of what he described as “player power plc”, those individuals who saw their place in the national side as a route to financial improvement and whose presence, Flower reckoned, inhibited newcomers.”
Remember, cricket is a team sport!
Also…Make sure you check out the comments at the end of the article. There’s some great discussion. Let me know your thoughts using the form below.
Ian Canaway here. What are you thoughts on the following…Why do most batsman never quite reach their full potential?
Is it lack of skill, training, commitment? Let me know your thoughts using the comment form at the bottom of the page…
Then go play some cricket!!
Is there too much focus on technique in cricket and not enough on strength of mind and focus?
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